Father Jerk Goes Ad Orientem

I admit that I prefer facing the people.

Because of renovations to our parish, we have been attending Mass in our fellowship hall. Because of space constraints and suggestions from staff who are sympathetic to tradition, Father Jerk has parked his presider’s chair to the side and taken to celebrating the Novus Ordo ad orientem. I think this is awesome.

I applaud any efforts including the meager ones to promote reverence and tradition in the liturgy. Father Jerk has made an effort in this direction. He can do much more, but I am pleased that he has subdued his ego enough to head in this direction. I know it will only last as long as we are crammed in the fellowship hall. But I would be thrilled if ad orientem became the norm for this priest.

Reverence and tradition shouldn’t be options or preferences but the norm. I pray that we will have a good priest in our parish one day. That priest could be Father Jerk. It would be nice to be able to stop calling him Father Jerk. As for the name, it puts the shame on him while protecting his identity. He knows he is a jerk. He just doesn’t care enough to stop. I pray that he will care someday before his particular judgment.

Why I Am Not Protestant

To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.

Once upon a time, I was an atheist. It seems like ages ago that I was an atheist. But I am only eight years removed from that error. When I was an atheist, I was not halfway about it. I had embraced the militant form of the foolishness espoused by the New Atheists which made me vocal, loud, and proud about being an unbeliever. This provoked a great deal of prayers for my conversion from various Protestant Christians in my workplace. Those prayers were sincere, and they worked. I would flee atheism to become Roman Catholic. When that happened, those Protestants wished I had remained an atheist.

Before I was an atheist, I was a Protestant. This was not a halfway thing with me either. I was raised in the faith of the Southern Baptist denomination and would be baptized in the Baptist church as an adult. I grew up with Billy Graham, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and Campus Crusade for Christ. I subscribed to Christianity Today magazine and embraced the “born again” label. I experienced a lot of bliss in those days of ignorance, but ignorance does not last forever.

I grew dissatisfied with my faith. I would read the Bible and just come away more perplexed. I struggled with sins that I just could not overcome. And I could not tell you who started my denomination or where it came from. I had some vague notions about Martin Luther who I liked and John Calvin who I considered scary and wrong. But I had an older Christian friend who seemed to know more about religion than I did. He was a Calvinist, and he introduced me to the writings and theology of John Calvin. I read Calvin’s Institutes. I found the arguments persuasive, and I embraced the hard to swallow doctrine of predestination. It changed my life. Unfortunately, it was not for the good.

I read everything I could about Reformed theology. My favorite theologian was RC Sproul. I thought that guy had all the answers. As I drank it all in, I moved from the Southern Baptist denomination to the Presbyterian church because it more closely conformed to my Calvinist beliefs. I also felt called to become a Presbyterian minister like my Calvinist friend and followed him to the seminary where RC Sproul taught. By the time I arrived there, Sproul had already had his falling out with fellow Reformed faculty and had left. I never took a single class from the man. But this was OK as the rest of the seminary had drunk deeply of that same poison.

I became more rabidly Calvinist while at seminary. I recognized in evangelical Christianity the subtle return to papist sensibilities about things. The notion of free will was the most obvious. The errors that Luther and Calvin had expunged from Christianity were coming back. I embraced the notion that the Reformed church must always be reforming. I would switch from reading Christianity Today to Modern Reformation magazine and would listen to hours of tapes of a show called The White Horse Inn. They would have a Lutheran on the show who Reformed people disagreed with on particulars but could join on the one issue of common agreement. The Church of Rome was the Whore of Babylon.

Now, my knowledge of church history and Catholicism was scant and distorted. I knew nothing of church history as an evangelical, so I was happy to work my way back to the roots of the Reformation. Calvinism gave me something I was lacking as an evangelical–a sense of history and tradition. Unfortunately, I had not gone back far enough. My view of things was that the Christian religion had been delivered pure to the Apostles in the first century and had been corrupted by Greek and Roman paganism by the third century. The only bright light in those dark times was Augustine of Hippo. Luther and Calvin were fond of him, so I considered Augustine one of the good guys who sort of got it in those pre-Reformation days. Otherwise, it was all rot and corruption.

To be Protestant, you have to believe that Jesus fumbled the ball for 1500 years of church history. But as a Calvinist, this did not concern me because of predestination. I believed people had faith, and their ignorance on matters of faith and morals was inconsequential to their salvation., So, it was OK that those pre-Reformation Christians worshipped Mary and statues. The elect could never be lost. By the same token, the elect contributed nothing to their salvation including their own free will choices. Free will was a heretical myth.

I thought Calvin, Sproul, Michael Horton, and all my seminary instructors had the answers. The problem came when I would read the Bible and still be perplexed at various passages in the New Testament. I was also struggling to overcome my sins except I felt powerless to make progress. To assuage my guilt on things, I had embraced the Lutheran distinction between the Law and the Gospel. The hard passages demanding my holiness were Law passages meant to drive me to the Gospel passages. I would befriend another seminarian who struggled much as I did. I had no idea of the enormity of his struggles in comparison to my own. But we both embraced the Law and Gospel thing. We would drink beer and whiskey and console each other that we were black hearted sinners saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.

When you can’t advance in holiness and sanctification, a good substitute is to advance in academics. We never expected to put “saint” in front of our names, but we could put some letters after our names. For us, our heroes were the ones who knew the most about theology, philosophy, church history, Greek, and Hebrew. I revered guys like B.B. Warfield, Geerhardus Vos, and John Gresham Machen. Needless to say, I read many books which left me more adrift than before. This is because the repetition of a lie can never turn a falsehood into a truth.

My deep reading on all things Reformed came to a screeching halt when I found my black hearted sinner friend dead by his own hand in his room. I could not understand this tragedy. Why would someone so well read in systematic theology with top marks in Hebrew kill himself? It put me into a tailspin. I began digging and badgering my seminary instructors until one admitted to me that my housemate was a closeted homosexual who had tried to kill himself twice before because of the guilt he felt over his sins. He had even written a paper on the subject of suicide and how a Christian could still expect to go to Heaven after killing himself because of the sola fide doctrine and the doctrine of election. At the memorial service for him, his minister agreed that my friend was in Heaven despite killing himself.

Needless to say, I was shocked, horrified, traumatized, and disgusted. I tried to do what my seminary instructors told me to do and just get over it. But I couldn’t. I didn’t know any better, but my gut told me that my friend’s religion had killed him. And it would kill me, too. I had to get the hell out of that place, and I did. I left seminary and never looked back.

I was not an atheist at that moment. That would take a few more years before I would come to that. But I stopped praying at that moment. I stopped going to church. I stopped reading the Bible. I closed my theology books. I saw it as taking a break for awhile until I could figure things out. The reality is that Protestantism leads inexorably to atheism. The tragedy had taken me there by the express lane instead of the long years it takes with others who finally either become openly atheist or hide it because they still need to make a living from their false religion.

Catholicism was never an option for me. I didn’t even consider Catholics to be Christians. I remember being incensed when Chuck Colson started playing footsie with the papists. There was a rumor floating around about one of our own who had apostasized to become Catholic. I would find out later that this was Scott Hahn. Others had made the same journey, but we blotted out their names from our memory banks. It was as if they never lived. The elect could never lose their salvation except by becoming Catholic.

As I slid into atheism, it all became a moot point to me. Catholicism was on the same footing as Protestantism, Hinduism, and voodoo as far as I was concerned. It was all ignorance and superstition to me. The irony is that move was what allowed me to consider Catholicism without my Protestant prejudices. When I met and married my Catholic wife, I studied the Catholic religion as an academic matter just to understand her better. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Peter and Paul were Catholic. The New Testament was Catholic. The gaps in my knowledge got filled in to the point where I realized that Luther and Calvin were a couple of liars who deluded a lot of people on things. Roman Catholicism was the truest form of the Christian religion. But it didn’t change the fact that I was an atheist. As I said, it was an academic thing for me.

My conversion came as I sat in my chair one day and thought about the whole matter and the new knowledge that I had. I still did not believe in God, but I wanted to believe in God. That was all I had. But it was all I needed. I moved exactly one inch in God’s direction. He did all the rest. That mustard seed of faith was turned into my conversion to Roman Catholicism. I felt that I had been stumbling around in a dark room for years and had accidentally turned on the light switch. But there are no accidents with God.

I believe God allowed me to be both deeply Protestant and deeply atheist before becoming deeply Catholic because those experiences help me to do apologetics with those two groups that I encounter with great frequency today. The effect in my own life is that I have been able to overcome sins that crippled me as a Protestant. This is the result of the grace I now receive in the sacraments. Grace works. And I also understand the Bible now and recognize the brilliant foolishness of my seminary professors. They had it wrong. They don’t even have the basic knowledge we teach our kids in CCD. And it was not pure religion that pushed my friend to his tragic death but heresy.

I am not Protestant because I have been there and done that. Precious few Protestants know anything about the history of the Christian faith and the Roman Catholic Church. Like John Henry Newman, I read the rest of the story. Luther and Calvin were no different than Arius or Pelagius before them. They beguiled people by telling them things that suited their itching ears. The result is the mutilated Christianity of Protestantism.

I have to laugh when some Baptist without even a high school diploma quotes his King James Bible and spouts out some distorted crap he heard from the pulpit of his church. Somehow, his knowledge and authority trumps the popes, bishops, apostles, church fathers, and saints of generations. That fool will claim the Holy Spirit as his inspiration and authority as if two thousand years of saints and believers were somehow deprived of the Holy Spirit. Then, in a week or so, that guy will leave his church for another one more to his liking. Whatever. . .

I have found that the best argument I can make against Protestants is with my life. I am sincere about my Catholic faith, and I practice that faith. I love the Lord and our Lady. I make the sign of the Cross and say the blessing before every meal. I attend Mass every Sunday. I read the Bible daily and pray my rosary. In short, I live the life of devotion that I believed Catholics were incapable of having when I was a Protestant. I am not perfect, but I am sincere. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This flummoxes evangelicals who deny that Catholics have supernatural faith and confounds Lutherans and Calvinists frustrated in their own pursuit of sanctification. The simple fact is that Catholicism is true, and it works. This is why all my Protestant friends talk about the “old Charlie” and the “new Charlie.”

My advice to Protestants is this. Read the history of the Church. Find out what happened after the Acts of the Apostles. Find out what happened after Saint John stroked the last letter of Revelation. Find out what happened to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Find out about the ones who came after that time. In short, get deep in history. Once you find out the whole story, it all makes much more sense.

Catholics on Social Media

. . . if you are struggling with social media and are balking at the idea of giving up FB, Twitter, or whatever, just think about what your life was like just a few short years ago before these social media “drugs” existed. Just a few short years ago, you didn’t need to check your notifications, you didn’t need that rush EVER, because it didn’t exist. And you got along just fine. Think about how this is exactly the same as the person who has started drinking heavily or doing drugs just within the past few years, and is now addicted to drugs or alcohol who honestly believes that they can’t live without it.

You can live without it.

You CAN give it up.

You don’t NEED it.

I’ll beg you all again, for the sake of your souls, GET OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Such potent toxicity! A spiritual drug made specifically to create and/or amplify narcissism. Flee! Leave and never look back! You can do it!

There is only one individual who I think uses Twitter in a successful way. This is Matt Drudge who has no tweets posted on his account. He will post a tweet that will last a day before getting deleted. That one tweet will influence the news cycle for the next 24 hours. That’s not bad for a single tweet. But Drudge pulls this off by barely tweeting anything at all. His account is the equivalent of a bulletin board used for special notices. Otherwise, it is silent.

For everyone else on Twitter, the social media platform is a bad thing. It eats your time. It stokes your anger. It is an outlet for very bad behavior. And, you will probably have to go to confession for various mortal sins committed on the service.

As Aquinas put it, nothing is inherently good or evil, but its usage may make it so. Social media is potentially a good thing. But Eve thought eating the forbidden fruit was potentially a good thing, too. That is how temptation works. It promises you something good without including the cost. And when you indulge the temptation, you find that you are even denied the good you expected to get.

I am watching various Catholics on social media lose their minds. One of these people is Mark Shea. Another is Steve Skojec. Fred Martinez pointed this out recently on his Catholic Monitor blog. But other Catholics on Twitter fall prey to the same temptations and falls as Skojec. I know I did.

Quitting Twitter was an ordeal for me. They have truly crafted an addictive product with that service. Facebook has done the same thing. Once you know something is bad for you, the easiest way to defeat it is to cut it off completely. Fortunately, I managed to do it without cancelling my internet service. But I considered it.

I don’t know why any Catholic bothers being on social media. It isn’t worth the price of your soul to win some shouting match with a troll on Twitter. Even if you win the argument, the troll has already won by bringing you to his level of imbecility. This is what has happened to Steve Skojec on Twitter. Flame wars have scorched his good sense to a crisp and now he is a fool. Someone should tell him, but he is too busy tweeting to listen.

The Prisoner in the Vatican

This apparent triumph of Satan will cause enormous suffering to the good pastors of the Church…and to the Supreme Pastor and Vicar of Christ on earth who, a prisoner in the Vatican, will shed secret and bitter tears in the presence of God Our Lord, asking for light, sanctity, and perfection for all the clergy of the world, to whom he is King and Father.

People dismiss Ann Barnhardt as a crazy lady off her meds dodging IRS agents in the Midwest. Because of this nuttiness, her thesis that Benedict XVI remains the one true pope while Francis is an antipope gets filed in the same Catholic Cuckoo folder as sedevacantism. The result is that folks like Taylor Marshall and Steve Skojec put as much daylight as possible between themselves and the “benevacantist” position not so much because of the argument but because of who is making the argument. When you make a living from your thoughts and words, you can’t run the risk of having those thoughts and words discredited. Fortunately for me, I don’t make a single penny from my thoughts and words which liberates me to say exactly what I think.

I think Ann Barnhardt is correct. Benedict remains the true pope while Francis is an antipope. If you doubt this, look no further at how faithful Catholics now ignore and dismiss everything that falls from the lips and the pen of the Bishop in White while they thrill at the least utterance of a frail old man living in fear and seclusion in the Vatican. The recent book co-authored with Cardinal Sarah concerning priestly celibacy is the most obvious example of this as Benedict has finally said something that contradicts Francis and puts the Argentinian in the uncomfortable position of not only defying every deceased pope that preceded him but also the one that still draws breath.

At this point, a Catholic must choose. Will it be Team Francis? Or, will it be Team Benedict? I know where I stand. I stand with tradition. I stand with the last pope that upholds that tradition. I am with Team Benedict. I reject the one who denies the divinity of Christ and undermines the long held traditions of the One True Faith. Many other Catholics do the same thing except they won’t make the bold declaration that I have made. It doesn’t matter. Our lips may not say it, but our guts do not lie. If Francis is truly pope, Catholicism is truly doomed. You can’t have a heretic pope.

The rumors are now turning into reality. Benedict was forced to make a half-hearted resignation from a job he never wanted. The quid pro quo was that they would let him remain alive and not end up like the murdered John Paul I. The caveat was that Benedict had to keep his mouth shut. Benedict has failed in this.

The modernist antichurch scum were hoping that nature would do the job for them, but I doubt they will wait for that inevitable day. The prisoner in the Vatican has become a very nasty inconvenience for them. What they desire most at this moment is his convenient death. But dead or alive, nothing can change Francis’s lack of authority. His anticipated Amazon synod document is already DOA. The faithful now await Francis’s death which will be greeted with relief whenever it comes.

The Coming Schism

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops.

There should be no doubt that we are living in the era of the Great Apostasy. If there is a doubt, I have to ask one question. What would the Great Apostasy look like if this is not it? The sodomy and child molestation is committed and abetted all the way to the top of the Catholic hierarchy including Pope Francis himself. There is financial scandal. The liturgy of our parishes has become a circus act of liturgical abuses as belief in the Real Presence is undermined. And doctrine is now mutable as the German bishops and other modernists push for women’s ordination and recognition of same sex unions. We can go on and on, but we have faithful Catholic media that George Weigel despises for telling the truth reporting on these things daily. And it gets worse by the day. The sad thing is that we are getting used to these revelations. They no longer shock us.

I believe that we are on the cusp of a break in the hierarchy. The faithful prelates have watched in relative silence as all these things have transpired under the reign of Francis. They say a little and do nothing. This is because the price they will pay for doing something will be the one that Marcel Lefebvre paid. The shabby treatment of that good man has served as a warning to all the other faithful priests and prelates to watch out. This has cowed the faithful shepherds into inaction and silence.

At what point will it all be too much? We are going to find out. The only restraint on the modernists comes from Francis himself who is not moving fast enough for them. They want to go all out and are prepared to run over Francis to get there. The golden prize for them is to be openly gay and same sex married while retaining their positions as priests and prelates. This is virtually the case now except for the openness. These sodomites envy their peers in the Episcopal church who already enjoy these privileges.

I believe the faithful priests and prelates are in the minority. I hear various stats mouthed by insiders that at least 80% of priests and bishops are tainted by sodomy and same sex attraction. That should be sobering for us. That leaves 20% untainted, and I can tell you that half of those are cowards who have learned to keep their mouths shut.

A break has to happen. The good guys have to make a stand. Dubias and documents will not suffice. The schism will happen when Francis is declared to be a heretic and an antipope. Once his authority has been denied, the schism will be on. Then, the rest of the faithful will have to do a gut check. Will they go with the 2000 year unchanging tradition of Roman Catholicism? Or, will they go with the Jesuit madman from Argentina who vowed to make a mess and has delivered on his promise? 2020 will be an interesting year.